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Army ant invasion of leatherback nests in Gabon

Egg mortality is one of the main factors affecting life history and conservation of oviparous species. A massive and cryptic colonisation of many leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) eggs is presented in the most important rookery for the species in Gabon. A total of 163 nests were exhumed at Kingere beach, revealing that only 16.7% of eggs produced hatchlings. In the 59% of the nests, more than half of the eggs were dead and attacked by invertebrates and 94% had at least one egg affected by invertebrates. The rate of eggs and SAGs (yolkless eggs) affected by invertebrates within a clutch ranged from 0% to 100%, with an average proportion of 39% and 52%, respectively. The most common invertebrates interacting with the eggs were ghost crabs and insects that affected 51% and 82% of the nests, respectively. Crab and insect co-occurred in 33% of the affected nests. Ants, identified as Dorylus spininodis (Emery 1901) were found in 56% of the excavated nests. However, it was not possible to determine if the ants predated alive eggs or scavenged dead eggs. Very often, hundreds of ants were found drowned within dead eggs. Termites and other invertebrates were associated with the clutch environment and identified as opportunistic feeders, being this is the first record of interaction between termites and sea turtle eggs. An unusual ecological interaction within the leatherback clutches between termites and ants was found in 11% of the nests. The abrupt transition between the soil forest and the beach might be favouring a thriving microbial and invertebrate activity in the sand profile that colonises the nests. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Ikaran et al (2020) Cryptic massive nest colonisation by ants and termites in the world's largest leatherback turtle rookery Ethol Ecol Evol 2020. Doi 10.1080/03949370.2020.1715487


https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03949370.2020.1715487
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Differences in selection of microhabitats and nest materials in three ground-nesting birds

Differences in selection of microhabitats and nest materials in three ground-nesting birds

Camouflage is a widespread strategy to avoid predation and is of particular importance for animals with reduced mobility or those in exposed habitats. Camouflage often relies on matching the visual appearance of the background, and selecting fine-scale backgrounds that complement an individual's appearance is an effective means of optimising camouflage. It was investigated whether there was an active selection of microhabitats and nest materials in three ground-nesting birds (pied avocet, Kentish plover, and little tern) to camouflage their eggs using avian visual modelling. Plovers and avocets selected substrates in which their eggs were better camouflaged, and that choice was done at an individual level. Terns have lighter, less spotted eggs, and while they did select lighter background than the other species, their eggs were a poor match to their backgrounds. The worse matching of the tern eggs was likely due to a compromise between thermal protection and camouflage because they breed later, when temperatures are higher. Finally, the addition of nest materials improved egg camouflage in terms of luminance, although the materials reduced pattern matching, which may be associated with the different roles that the nest materials play. Active selection of substrates at an individual level may be crucial to improve nest success in species that nest in exposed sites. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Gómez et al (2018) Individual egg camouflage is influenced by microhabitat selection and use of nest materials in ground-nesting birds. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 72:142 https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-018-2558-7